Supporting our businesses is very important personally to me because it was when Ripple closed in 2017 that I first started advocating for the community. I joined the Economic Vitality Committee, then was on the board of the Cleveland Park Citizens Association, and have now started advocating for the businesses on the ANC. There’s three core strategies I have to attract and retain businesses:
People: We need more people living, working, and playing in Cleveland Park for businesses to have enough customers. The truth is while the rest of the city has grown and created fun and interesting commercial areas, we have not, and we are now paying the price. It’s not just businesses, the Cleveland Park Metro Stop is the least used metro stop on the Red line (snapshot below). It was one of the reasons why it was shut down during the early days of the pandemic, with a threat to make it permanently closed if WMATA had budget cuts. Our post office was also in danger of closing. So it’s not just the businesses, unless we have more people living in our neighborhood, this problem won’t be solved, and we'll keep losing our amenities. I am in favor of creating more housing in our neighborhood, such as the Macklin Development happening right now. By mid-sized apartment buildings, we can bring more people to live here and keep our cozy feel.
Public Space: Our community currently has a 6-lane highway driving through it during rush hour. It’s designed to get people into and out of the city. If we want more people to come to our business district, we have to make it a walkable, safe space. Two different studies (page 17 here; slide 5 here) have shown that 80% of all people who come to our business district do so by walking, biking, or transit. Less than 20% use cars. Creating space for people to come here and stay here is key. I support the public plaza being built at the Macklin and believe we should think of creative ways to have the service lane closed to cars on the evenings and weekends. I also advocated for 24 hour parking on Connecticut Avenue, with pick-up drop-off and loading zones as well as short-term parking. At any given day, 40% of the business Cracked Eggery does is by delivery. They don’t need long-term parking to survive, they need quick turnaround times. Other places might need longer parking, such as grocery stores and hair stylists. Concept C creates this diversity of parking one one side of the avenue and brings bicycle lanes which have been shown to be good for businesses as well.
Be welcoming to businesses: ANC Commissioners have a lot of leeway to help or hinder businesses moving in or staying here. We should do everything we can to help businesses feel welcome to the neighborhood, whether it is approving a liquor license on consent like I led for the Uptown, or helping a neighborhood business such as Medium Rare through the confusing historic preservation process. In both cases, I not only wrote the resolutions, but also facilitated the process so it wasn’t held up. Rather than use the leverage of the ANC to extract more and more concessions, I pledge to you that I will always provide business more answers than they need so they know they have an ally and a friend to help them through.
I also work closely with Cleveland Park Main Street to support the hard work they do in helping our businesses, such as aiding in applying for loans. Our ANC just passed a resolution to advocate for local small-owned business incentives/subsidies. I also frequent the businesses a lot, which ensures I know the latest issue they are dealing with. The strategy above has been made from my conversations with them, but don’t take my word for it, here’s a Cleveland Park business owner and 50-year resident endorsing everything I said. We are also lucky to have Tammy Gordon running in 3C06, whose expertise is exactly this. Tammy and I already had many conversations about strategies, and have reached out to potential businesses too.
Oh, and there’s a new business opening in place of California Tortilla and I know of a current business who is in the process of opening, yes, a coffee counter! When these open, please join me in frequenting them.